In many of my posts, I share how learning to be happier has changed my life for the better. At the beginning of 2022, my happiness practices were really tested. I am so excited to share this story of how those practices served me well this week as I experienced a challenging start to the New Year.
I was sick on the first Monday of the year, January 3. I took the afternoon off from work and just slept for four hours. Tuesday wasn’t much better and I missed work again and spent most of the day in bed after venturing out in a foot of snow to get a COVID test. I got stuck in the snow leaving the urgent care center and it took an hour before a helpful stranger stopped to dig me out and give me a little push out of my predicament.
On Thursday, I learned my aunt passed away. She was the last strongest connection I had to my mom who died in 2011. I experienced a very moving sadness and I cried a lot. I lost a cheerleader in my life. I lost a woman who I could call any time of the day or night with good or bad news and talking with her would help me feel better.
During the five hour drive to my hometown, my partner and I had a very frightening close call on the ice covered highway. We were almost sandwiched between two tractor trailers when we lost the ability to control the car. Tony drifted left, then right, then left and right again to avoid cars, trailers, and the guard rail. Certainly my aunt was watching over us and kept us safe. We pulled off the road at the next rest stop and tried to calm our nerves.
On Friday, my COVID test results came back positive. My mother in-law and brother in-law also tested positive. I had some fear for our lives. Some fear we have shared our infection with others and put their lives at risk. Fear of the unknown, potentially long lasting side effects that might impact our lives from this new variant.
As I write these words on Sunday afternoon I feel resilient. I feel strong and I feel ready for the funeral later this week. I believe my ability to bounce back from a week filled with illness, dangerously cold and snowy winter weather, loss, and grief is a result of my new practices.
Several times during the week I focused on the good. I thought about the blessings I had to be grateful for and I daydreamed about a bright future. I cried and I was sad, but I continued.
I took solace in knowing I visited my aunt every time I traveled home. I took her to lunch. I took her for ice cream. I baked with her. I spent Black Friday shopping online with her for the perfume she wanted to try and some new jewelry. I have peace knowing I did right by her when she was alive.
Three of us accompanied her daughter and son to make the funeral arrangements and enjoyed lunch together that afternoon. We were all together to support each other during this difficult time. We laughed. We cried. We mourned and reminisced together. This week we’ll spend more time together remembering my aunt, saying goodbye, and being there for one another.
Relationships matter. Having a strong support system in place before a tragedy makes a difference.
Gratitude changes everything. Being grateful for what we had and how I spent my time with my aunt makes this ending easier to process and faster to recover from.
Optimism looks forward. I can hear the voice in my head saying 2022 is going to be a bad year because, well just look how it started. I am actively choosing to ignore that voice. The future is bright!
As 2022 begins, I am continuing to build relationships with my loved ones. I will seek small things to be grateful for in every moment. When the negativity creeps in, I will change my thoughts. I will choose optimism. I’m excited these practices have worked for me so far this year and excited about the good things ahead that are waiting for me!
Happiness is a choice. Choose wisely.
Read more about Choosing Happiness, The Science of Cultivating Happiness in this piece written by Kristen Fuller, MD in Psychology Today.
Despite the challenges that filled last week. Here is a list of things I am grateful for:
- Kindness still exists in helpful strangers who won’t take money even when they help us.
- For every reason to cry, there is at least one to smile.
- God and His angels are watching us.
- My family’s COVID symptoms are mild, the vaccine works!
- A foot of snow is beautiful!
- Tony is a great driver!
- There is so much to look forward to!
- We are safe.
- We are healthy.
- We have each other.
- We have enough.
- Animals are great companions during difficult times.
- Comfort food is so very, very comforting.
- A hot shower can fix anything.
- Sleep is restorative.
To manage my bipolar I regularly took my medications and I added extra sleep aids this week. I know the biggest challenges I face are when I do not get enough sleep. I am grateful I was able to manage my illness successfully during this tough week.
2022 has big plans for us and I am ready for all of the goodness that is coming my way! Are you?